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Publisher's Note: Welcome to the Department of Meditation, where you are treated to the ageless wisdom and inimitable wit of our very own meditation guru, Constance Wilkinson, psychotherapist and card-carrying Buddhist.

Constance welcomes your feedback and questions about meditation at

The Department of Meditation

Spring Fever?

by Constance Wilkinson

Spring fever: A feeling of restlessness and excitement felt at the beginning of spring.

True enough, the coming of spring is exciting, especially after all our overly exciting wintery windy blizzardy chilly frigid power-outage-y beach-and-dune-chomping-stormy recent weather events here on Cape. Whew. All hail the triumphantly emerging snowdrops, with crocuses and grape hyacinths to come.

Spring. A good time to wake up. A time to open up and to allow all inspiration in. A time to set a time to tame one's mind through simple sitting meditation (What is this, a meditation pep rally?).

Yes, well, okay, that's the thing.
Doing it.
Starting something new.
Starting something new and fresh in the simplicity of spring.
Simple sitting meditation.

Taking a break.

Letting mind rest in simplicity.

"Letting mind rest in simplicity?" Ay, there's the rub.

Once we start to sit, there really is excitement. It happens if it's your first time sitting. It happens if it's the third or ninety-third. There is a rush of triumph, and relief. Yes! We can congratulate ourselves. We've finally done it. We've succeeded in sitting down. We've kept our promises. Here we are, sitting down to practice meditation!


Now, what?

Excitement lingers. Just a bit.

We remain hopeful—it's fresh, it's new, it's exciting, we're really meditating, we've gotten ourselves to sit down, and here we are!

Breathing, waiting.

Will we become enlightened? Maybe. Will everything suddenly be bathed in the sunlight of glorious spring? Will we win the lottery at last? Will we suddenly get rich? Will something ever happen? Will it? Won't it? Yikes?

Excitement fades.
Excitement fades and restlessness arises.


The undergrowth of thoughts suddenly becomes gigantic and entangling.

Department of Meditation

The Center for Change

Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA

mindfulness-based, solution-focused
expressive arts--EMDR--clinical hypnosis

Brewster, MA

We're Briar Rose imprisoned by an urgent thorny cage of restless urgent thoughts.

Cripes, why did I start to do this? Yeow, my foot is killing me! Ouch, that pain in my neck is ridiculous! This is ridiculous! This is a waste of time! Was that the telephone? I need to move my foot. I need to make some tea. I shouldn't have sent that letter. That was so stupid.

This is a waste of time. I wish I'd never started. It's too hard to sit here like this. Who invented this stupid practice? Leave me alone, let me go have a good sulk. Wish I'd never tried to do this in the first place.

Who is that stupid person who thinks this is healthy? It is a stupid waste of time and I wish I could stop. I'm going to stop. I'm going to get up. Right now. Hah. You're not the boss of me.

But it's spring, and in spring there may be miracles. The miracle of this emerging moment, now, right now, is that somehow, sometimes, we can manage to keep sitting.

Despite all that noise in our heads, despite the sweet seductive sound of siren songs, our own discursive thoughts, we somehow keep on sitting; we want to get up, our mind is screaming to stop, but somehow, by miracle, we don't.

We become disciplined enough to just keep on sitting, sitting with the restlessness because that's just what's there in mind, just at the moment.

We can only work with mind just as it is.

That's all there is to it. And that's the secret.


Natural simplicity.

Not something made up, not something artificial, not something theoretical. Working with mind requires that one, you know, work with mind. You can't just read about it in a column (hint, hint), and get it by magic. It's not something where knowledge can be transferred just by reading words.

It's a matter of science, like an experiment. There are conditions to be met, and there are outcomes. It requires experience through practice. Yes, they call it practicing meditation. Yes, I am here, in cheery spring after chilly winter, cheerleading for my gentle readers to go forth and practice meditation.

Set a specific length of time. Five minutes a day, say, because everyone has five minutes. Decide on a definite time of day, so it turns into a habit. Right after awakening in the morning, if you can, after cup of tea or coffee, and before breakfast. If you're yawning and sleepy when you start, that's a good thing.

Your discursive mind may still be half-asleep, so it can't talk you out of it as you're starting to sit. That's mostly what keeps us from meditating, by the way, discovering that tendency to detour, and then eluding it. It's an important antidote, you'll find.

You'll find out also that as your mind becomes more pliant, keeping up your practice becomes less of a struggle and more like a breath of fresh air, something you can look forward to, like a warm April day.

The natural qualities of mind are always new, green, spring-like, exciting in their clarity and in restless movement through unceasing thoughts arising. Their basis is a fresh present awareness like a sky that continues to remain clear and spacious whether obscured by clouds or rain or snow or not. With more practice, comes more ease, and more relief.

It's a bit like this poem I wrote:

On Gaushala cliff

sky like mind is a
boundless, sheer space

without beginning
and with no end

Just past daybreak
brown mountain hawk soars

and circles;
In his element
he glides, at ease

At ease and free
I rest here, hear
the rustling

of the green stalks
of bamboo

not anything
anything at all
really, nor other

than a hawk, the sky

and endless

Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA is a licensed psychotherapist who uses a mindfulness-based, solution-focused approach to help reduce symptoms of dysregulation, as well as to develop clients' personal goals and strategies to achieve them. She is trained in EMDR, clinical hypnosis, EFT, and expressive arts.

She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in creative writing and an MA in clinical mental health counseling psychology from Lesley University. Since 1978, Ms Wilkinson has been practicing meditation and studying with distinguished Tibetan Buddhist refugee teachers in the United States, India, Nepal, and Tibet.

Constance Wilkinson can be reached at 508-648-8105

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